Bassmaster Classic: Big deficit doesn't deter rest of field
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Monday, February 25, 2013
2/25/13 at 6:11 AM
Watch slideshows and videos, read blogs and much more on the 2013 Bassmaster Classic
Cliff Pace's 7-pound lead was huge entering Sunday's final round of the Bassmaster Classic Presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
But that didn't keep the bass fishing pros from making a spirited run at overtaking the Petal, Miss., native, who won with 54 pounds, 12 ounces of fish caught over three days.
Second-place finisher Brandon Palaniuk had an outstanding weekend but ended 3 pounds, 4 ounces behind Pace. Hank Cherry (49 pounds, 0 ounces) landed in third place but lost a big bass in Sunday's final 15 minutes. Michael Iaconelli (48 pounds, 5 ounces) couldn't land the keeper fish needed to get him in the running and he finished in fourth, while Mike McClelland of Arkansas (45 pounds, 5 ounces) landed in fifth.
The pursuit to join Pace as a world champion in the future remains strong among his four closest competitors.
"There's a whole whirlwind of emotions going on here. I'm just trying to hold it back," said Palaniuk, minutes before Pace's bag was weighed.
Palaniuk started his professional career sleeping in the back of his truck instead of hotels to save money. On Sunday, he earned a $45,000 paycheck.
Cherry had a heartbreaking end when a big bass was lost in the final 15 minutes. It was preserved via video and shown to the BOK Center's capacity crowd.
"It was probably seven pounds, maybe a little bigger," Cherry said. "I was at the same spot about an hour earlier and one about five pounds came off."
Cherry earned a $40,000 payday for third-place.
McClelland had plenty of experience fishing the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees. In hindsight, he would have changed strategy a bit.
"I would have fished a pattern more-so than getting caught up in fishing spots," McClelland said. "I said before I got here that the guy that ran a pattern and didn't just continue to fish spots would be the winner."
Iaconelli finished fourth but enjoyed the Classic's first visit to Oklahoma.
"This is No. 14 (Classic) for me and I've never seen a crowd or fan base like we've had in Tulsa," he said. "I love it. It's awesome."
Original Print Headline: Big lead leads to big win
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Champion Cliff Pace holds the trophy at the Bassmaster Classic on Sunday at the BOK Center. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Brandon Palaniuk had a good day on the lake Sunday to finish in second place. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World